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Wednesday 2 June 2021

Loneliness, Finding My Best Blues, Link-Up

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton the over 50s style blog in Blue Jewel jacket and sangria t-shirt from Kettlewell Colours

It was a long weekend, with both a bank holiday and a day off on Friday, thanks to my company awarding us a day of care.  It was even sunny. But I'm dreading being asked if I had a nice time, and what I did.  The truth is, if it wasn't for my online life, I feel like a ghost drifting through life. 

Loneliness is the ultimate stigma but many of us are in the same boat.  A survey of over a thousand over-50s by Gransnet in the UK revealed that three in four of older people in Britain describe themselves as lonely.  The Compaign to End Loneliness highlights real health risks for people who are lonely.  They say the number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6. This compares to around 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 49% increase in 10 years. 

I first drafted a version of this post in 2018, after I'd read this post by blogger Elizabeth at 50Sense. But I couldn't find the courage to publish it. 

I don't regard myself as someone who has problems fitting in. I'm introverted, but I've learnt over the years how to deal with it and I can walk into a room full of strangers and make conversation. I have lots of friends on social media. In 2017, when I was looking for a job, I went on a lot of Meet Ups and it was a great way to see the sights of London, and go for walks, with like-minded people.

There are two women at work I’d like to get to know better, and I was due to go on two outings until the pandemic intervened. 

It's taken a long time for Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton to find shasdes of blue that make her happy. She is wearing a very bright blue, Blue Jewel, with a deep pink.

How Most of Us Lose Touch

My problem is that from my early 20s, I moved around to further my career, living in different towns and cities, and even a different country. 

I made some good friends but they're all a long way away.  I didn't stay in contact with many of my school friends, mainly because I went into the demanding world of journalism and then radio, and worked unsocial hours. Then the moving about started. There was a short lived first marriage, and then more than a decade spent on my own, and living in Newbury, Swindon, Munich, Maidenhead, Swindon again and then London. 

I see some of my long distance friends occasionally but it's hard - they have families and other demands on their time. I am an inveterate organiser so it's always me who suggests meet ups and makes the arrangements. 

When I worked at my last company I used to regularly organise get-togethers to help us stay in touch with colleagues who had left. Everyone enjoyed them, but no-one else ever organised one.  When I left that company after 20 years, I felt we were sure to stay in touch. I loved them all as family. But apart from a meet up I organized, which went wrong because I got delayed on the long journey down to Swindon, we only communicate on Facebook or IG. 

Summer in the City

Summer in London is the worst time and place to be lonely. There are so many fantastic things happening. I'd love to be able to spontaneously get up early to go to the Colombia Road flower market, with a friend,  for example, or spend a day looking at vintage shops in London; or have three days of fancy dress and fun at an 80s music festival. Or go swimming in the Serpentine and have a picnic afterwards. 

Sometimes I do these things on my own, but it's not as much fun. I sadly don't take after my mum, who, pre-lockdown, had a fantastic social life. Her generation were perhaps the lucky ones.  They talk a lot, on their landlines;  they send birthday cards  (she literally gets dozens) and they wouldn't dream of backing out of an arrangement if it was made. My attempt at organizing a blogger meet-up a couple of years ago resulted in numerous drop-outs a couple of days before it happened, so in the end there were just three of us. 

Wearing bright cool colours, blue and pink:  Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton

When you and your husband don't like the same things

You may ask where my husband is in all of this.  He took early retirement in 2018 and is pursuing many of his sporting goals. He’s a member of a running club and trains a group of Marathon first-timers every year.  He does a strenuous two week cycling holiday every year – at the moment he’s on the last day of "Lejog", a one thousand mile cycle ride with a group from Land's End to John O'Groats in Scotland.

Being on my own for the long weekend brought back memories of when this used to happen years ago, and I would dread going home on Friday in the knowledge that I might not speak to anyone until Tuesday, except for shop assistants. I spent the whole time this weekend keeping to a rigid schedule of cleaning and gardening, so that I wouldn't have "spare time." I had booked to go on a Meet Up, but it was only for two hours so I didn't think it was worth the trip into London.

I did think about going away, to a spa or down to my mum's, but I have an elderly cat and the cattery where she's been staying for years has closed down thanks to Covid.  You may think me sentimental, but I don't want to subject poor old Molly to another cattery because she hates it so much, and hardly eats anything.

J is not very interested in going into London for dinner and theatre, as we used to do occasionally. I can just about get him to commit to a restaurant for our wedding anniversary and birthdays. 

He's keen for me to join him in his sporty activities and although I've tried (you'll recall I attempted the 190-mile Coast to Coast walk), I don't think I could ever get to his level of fitness so I'm always going to be a long way behind. 

Ways to meet people 

To make friends you have to get out there. I was single for a few years before I met J and I didn't sit at home moping --- I went on singles holidays, met up with groups like Dinner Dates, and tried evening classes. 

Opportunities to meet up with other bloggers are great because we’re all like-minded women  with similar interests. But it’s hard to pull off, it takes months of planning. 

I've also tried one of the apps intended to help women meet other women for friendship, but it seemed aimed mostly at millennials. That was a couple of years ago, so I'll take another look to see if it's improved. 

Right now, it feels like my life is just work and going on walks, blogging and doing housework and chores. There’s the occasional outing to see J’s granddaughter, and now that restrictions are lifting, I can invite his children and their families round for lunch. I'm fond of both of his children and their spouses, but I don't foist myself on them because they have very busy lives. 

Kettlewell's Blue Jewel Chloe jacket worn by blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton

Discovering the Right Blue

On Monday I was bemoaning the fact I didn't have much in blue, or patterned, to express the sky and sea for Hilda's Style Not Age Challenge (see it here).  But I have made the acquaintance of two blues which lift my spirits. 

Regular readers will know I'm taking a renewed interest in colour analysis, and building a good collection from Kettlewell of the brights that suit me best. Most blues don't flatter me at all, and I find some, like navy or royal blue, depressing to wear.

But two very bright blues - Chinese Blue and Blue Jewel - bring my face to life.

In these pictures I'm wearing Blue Jewel in the form of Kettlewell's Chloe jacket. I've gone the whole hog by pairing it with another bright, Sangria. The necklace is made of resin and is very soft with no nickel to irritate.  I bought it at the excellent shop at the V&A Museum  (also available online).

Once you've discovered the right colours you'll either look great if they're blended tonally  (if you're a Summer, for example), or, if you're a winter who can also wear some of the cool spring brights, which I am, you'll look better with contrast. 

If this Post Resonated

It took a lot of courage to publish today's post - it was first drafted in 2018! If you're affected in the same way and don't want to leave a comment, you can always email me at isthismutton96@gmail.com
If there are a few of us about, in London and the Home Counties, it would be great to explore meeting up - or at the minimum, setting up a What's App group for chats. 

Sharing this post with:  Beauty by Miss L, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness  at Shelbee on the Edge, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile  at StylesplashStyle Six at Coast to CoastTFF at Doused in Pink, Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style,  #Iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb, Lizzie in Lace Confident Twosday at IDoDeclaire,Rena at Fine WhateverFabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette #TheWednesdayLinkUp at Claire Justine

Nothing was gifted and no affiliate links were used.

Now it's time for the #WowOnWednesday link-up.  Let's start with last week's most clicked posts.

Last Week's Favourites

Jacqui from Mummabstylish with her post "Tunic top with leather look trousers and blazer."

Rena from Fine Whatever with her post "Fashion Phobias and Other Style Rules."

Is This Mutton Favourite non-fashion post:  Michelle from My Bijou Life and her thought provoking post, "The Cost of Perfectionism."

My post Stop Editing Older Women was featured on Links à la Mode fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.

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  1. What a very interesting and brave post Gail. I can relate to it. Though I don't feel lonely anymore, but I did for most part of my life. I never had very close friendships until the last 15 year. I now have a few very close friends and my sister. But my friends have totaly different interests. On the other hand, I don't find many people interesting......I know it's bad. Not interesting enough for a deep that is. People are shallow most of the time and I don't like that. When I accepted that, it was easier to meet with people. No expactations.

    1. Thanks Nancy, yes I understand your view. It is difficult nowadays to get to know people "deeply." We're all transients, passing through life..

  2. You look lovely in the little blue jacket Gail and your hair is lovely too.😍 I think it was very brave of you to write this post.I was surprised to read it because you always seem to be so jolly, so vibrant and energetic. It just goes to show that people don't always show how they are really feeling inside 💕💕💕


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